Trans-south Asian road, rail network to be reality
NEW DELHI: Breakfast in Amritsar, lunch in Lahore, dinner in Kabul and throw in sunny beaches of Sri Lanka and Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness -- you have a perfect holiday planned. And, it could happen for real if the current season of India-Pakistan goodwill holds.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise Christmas Day stopover in Lahore has breathed fresh life into frosty bilateral ties and also fuelled hope that the two neighbours will finally get going on an agreement that will allow seamless movement of people and goods in the Saarc region.
After months of disruptions, India is willing to host a meeting of the transport secretaries of all South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) countries. It will be followed up by a transport ministers’ meet with renewed hope of rolling out a regional motor vehicles agreement (MVA) at the earliest.
“Saarc initiatives often fumble because of the problem between India and Pakistan. If they work together, it is good for the region,” said a south Asian diplomat posted in New Delhi.
If all goes well, agreements for motor and rail travel across the Saarc countries – India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Maldives – may be signed at the next summit in 2016, when Modi is scheduled to travel to Pakistan.
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